Addiction is dependency on or habitual use of something. We know that having too little or too much of anything is bad. You may not know it, but if you’re becoming too dependent on your smartphone, tablet, iPad or similar gadget, you could be in danger.
Mobile devices especially those with touchscreens are now becoming the ultimate toys (or tools) for children and even grownups. After all, they are handy, powerful, and can do a gazillion things all at once and singlehandedly.
Having an ipad or a notebook is like having a phone, a clock, a to-do-list, a laptop, a pen and paper. It’s like having whole band or orchestra in one go – there’s piano, guitar, drum set, you name it. Flick to another app and it’s like having an art studio complete with a canvass, color palette and multiple brushes, or a professional kitchen, a virtual classroom or office, a fantasy land, etc.
Most of all, it’s very easy to use even for one year old babies with frail, little fingers. So what’s not to like about these amazingly powerful mobile devices? Well, if they become instruments of self-destruction, that’s what.
When your toddler can draw a picture with a touchscreen device, it’s a proud moment, right? Well, not exactly. Fiddling touchscreens does very little in developing your child’s fine motor skills. If anything, your child may even lose interest in using real crayon or pencil because well they can just touch, tap, drag, pinch, and press the screen and voila – things magically happen.
- Touchscreens Downplay the Need for Real Life Play
Colorful, exciting toys like swings, slides, ball pools, and seesaws grace kiddie play areas today. But despite the awesomeness of “real, actual toys” somewhere in a corner, there are tabs or iPads that transport kids to a “virtual playground” and a child or two would prefer to play with them rather than with actual toys and actual friends in an actual play area. And there goes the opportunity for physical play and making friends.
The world has become smaller and smaller, thanks to technology. It’s easier to communicate with people miles away from you when you have a communication device such as an Internet-connected smartphone or tablet. Mobile devices can help those physically apart from being virtually together. But what happens when you’re only a few inches away from that someone and both of you continue to use smartphones? You become physically together, but hey, there’s an evil third wheel – your mobile device – and it’s no longer helping, but ruining your relationship.
Anything in excess or in shortage is bad. Excessive use of mobile devices particularly late at night definitely has a toll on your body. There’s always the urge to go up another level in Candy Crush, to constantly check the number of likes and comments in a recent social media post. Before you know it, you’ve already consumed (more like wasted) substantial amounts of time meant for sleeping or resting. What’s more – artificial light from a mobile phone affects the melatonin signals of the body and leads to insomnia. Having sleeping problems is just one of the signs you’re addicted to smartphone or mobile device.
- Mobile Device Addiction Makes You Grumpy
When you don’t have enough rest, you don’t have enough energy. You feel tired and beat, and it’s easy to get grumpy. When you can’t complete a difficult level and advance, you get frustrated. When you wait very long for someone to reply to your Facebook message or to generate a certain number of likes to your post, you stress out. When your mom wants you to do the dishes in the height of your gaming or chatting, you get angry. Your obsession over these minuscule things can escalate to you having destructive thoughts and feelings.
Allowing your child to use a smartphone or internet-enabled device without setting limits does them more harm than good. According to a study, teenagers who are “heavy cell phone users” are more prone to bullying attacks and becoming bullies themselves. Cyber bullying not just happens over social media, but also over text messaging, so buying your child a low-end phone doesn’t help either. As parents, giving your kids a phone is a good way to stay connected, but do set limits. How? Start with this guide to setting cell phone boundaries.
- Mobile Devices Are Often Used in Non-Ergonomic Ways
Many of us today would simply take any position lying down, slouching, squatting or standing, so long as we can use our gadgets. The result? Text claw, cell phone elbow, iPhone posture, text neck, and all the things that can hurt our body. Whether you’re working or playing using any gadget, there’s no better substitute to an ergonomic workspace where you have an ergonomic chair and a good desk in a well-lit room. For your safety, know the healthier ways to use a mobile device.
- Unsafe Mobile Device Habits Lead to Cyber Attacks
When your smartphone or tablet usage goes out of hand, you tend to cultivate unsafe device habits such as connecting to unsecure Internet just for the sake of being online. Here’s a quick checklist to assess your addiction.
- Do you store sensitive, personal information in your mobile device?
- Do you remain logged to banking or email site, or use the same log in information across critical accounts?
- Do you hook your phone to a public, unsecure connection?
- Do you download and use apps without verifying security and permission requirements?
- Do you click links in spite of security warnings?
If you answer “yes” to any one of these questions, then you are at risk of malware and virus attacks, and of losing confidential information to hackers.
There’s no way you can be productive when you can’t lose your phone for a short moment of doing meaningful tasks. Sure, your phone is packed with “helpful” apps to guide you in just about anything from cooking to remembering your ovulation, but constantly consulting your device can also prevent you from doing things spontaneously. And how about those apps that get you distracted or unreasonably preoccupied like games, social media, and videos? If you become depressed, stressed, anxious or ridiculously busy over some unimportant app, you’re screwed. So don’t be sad or angry if your boss bans phones during office hours.
Never mind the lack of sleep, loss of productivity, or hacking risks – these ill-effects of mobile device addiction are nothing compared to plunging to your death when your selfie-taking goes awfully bad. The first recorded selfie-related accident happened in a school in Pasig sometime in July 2014 where a 14-year old girl lost her balance, fell from a staircase and died while trying to take a selfie. The latest is that of a 19-year old student who fell from a roofdeck in Ermita and died. Nope, we’re not scaring you for the sake of it. We’re simply stating facts here.
Scary, ain’t it? Mobile device addiction not just affects fine motor skills development, productivity, mood, and relationships, it can also kill you. If you, your child or anyone you know shows signs of unhealthy mobile device use, talk to them. Doing so could save a life. Why don’t you start by sharing this article to your social media friends?